Eduardo Berliner (b. 1978, Rio de Janeiro) is the first painter to be invited by curator Marcio Doctors to participate in the Projeto Respiração [Respiration Project], that since 2004 has brought other 23 artists to create interventions at Fundação Eva Klabin, a house-museum located in Rio de Janeiro’s South Zone. His exhibition, Eduardo Berliner: A Presença da Ausência [The Presence of Absence] integrates the celebrations for the Foundation’s 20th anniversary.
For the previous 19th editions, the curator had chosen to work with installations, as the walls were two crowded with pieces from the Foundation’s collection to receive new paintings, and specially because his own research doesn’t include issues regarding representation. Yet, the quality of Berliner’s paintings instigate his perception, making Doctors change his mind into believing that a painter could add an important contribution to the project. Now, he says that “no artist ever managed to create such an intense approximation with the history of the images presented by the collection”.
As the works created for the project must be in relation with the Foundation’s collection, Berliner visited the space many times, for several months, in order to capture its essence and record the images that struck his attention. He reconfigured the images from the collection and the architecture in his own narratives, crossing his memories with the ones of the house. One of the most remarkable facts for him was the amount of tapestries and velvet, which he understood as a representation of the house. From that point, he created a several of experiments with bleach on velvet, an attempt to draw with stains. He also acquired three chairs will a coating that could create a dialogue with the furniture from the house-museum, and frayed its fabric. The appearance of the stuffing talked about the memory of the own material and enabled another kind of material for drawing. The stained velvet and the chairs are exhibited as objects in dialogue with the house’s carpets, tapestries and curtains.
The artist also constructed several wooden folding screens coated with oil paintings in silk. It was a solution to use a domestic object as support for the installation of paintings and drawings, without interfering in the walls. The piece “Meninos Pescando” [Boys Fishing], by Italian Giovanni Francesco Romanelli (1610-1622), also influenced the artist, that made a parallel between the work and the history of fish as an element in still life paintings. He painted, then, his own still life, that works as a connection between the different rooms of the house, by the development of a theme that can be found in the collection, and with the lake with carps in the house’s garden, designed by Burle Marx.
The Projeto Respiração creates bridges between contemporary art and the classical art collection of Fundação Eva Klabin, which embraces about 50 centuries of art history, from Ancient Egypt to Impressionism. Through the project, contemporary artists are invited to create special interventions for the house’s space, establishing relations with pieces from the collection. Other than Berliner, artists that participated on the project were Anna Bella Geiger, Anna Maria Maiolino, Brígida Baltar, Carlito Carvalhosa, Chelpa Ferro (Luiz Zerbini, Barrão and Sergio Mekler), Claudia Bakker, Daniela Thomas, Enrica Bernardelli, Ernesto Neto, João Modé, José Bechara, José Damasceno, Laura Lima, Lílian Zaremba, Marcos Chaves, Maria Nepomuceno, Marta Jourdan, Nelson Leirner, Nuno Ramos, Paulo Vivacqua, Rosângela Rennó, Sara Ramo, and Portuguese Daniel Blaufuks and Rui Chafes.